Can your landlord or HOA stop you from using a TV antenna?

Getting a digital antenna and installing it is one process. But if you’ve ever been met with resistance from a restrictive homeowners association or landlord, you’ll know that you may be facing another set of hurdles when attempting to use a digital antenna.

Sometimes HOAs or landlords are worried about the way an antenna will look outside a home or if it will cause any damage to the property — but that doesn’t mean they can tell you not to install one.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has an “Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule” that deals with this topic, and it is mostly in favor of homeowners and tenants.

The FCC rule “prohibits restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas used to receive video programming and certain antennas used to receive or transmit fixed wireless signals,” as well as satellite dishes that are less than a meter in diameter, TV antennas, wireless cable, and “certain fixed wireless antennas.”

No one can prevent or increase the cost of the installation, maintenance or use of these antennas or dishes or block their signal quality.

The FCC clarified that this includes people who live in condos and townhouses with community associations, not just single-family home dwellers.

However, the FCC does say that if a central or common antenna can provide a signal to multiple home units, a community association, HOA or landlord can prevent individual antennas.

An HOA could say that you can’t put an antenna on the roof or outside wall of a multi-unit building as that could be considered a common space. But if you have a balcony or patio space that is only accessible to you, an antenna could be put up there.

Any antenna installation must not damage a building or cause any significant safety issues or violations of historic building designations.

An HOA or the like also can’t require you to get pre-approval or a permit or charge you for such. Other landlord- or community association-imposed costs related to your antenna installations must also be reasonable. The FCC gives the example that asking you to paint your antenna to better blend in with the exterior of a building is reasonable as long as it doesn’t make your signal worse. But an HOA can’t ask you to put in a landscaping screen to hide a small digital antenna.

Over on the AVSForum, there is an older but well-explained response to someone asking if their HOA can charge a deposit for installing a dish or antenna.

“If you make no physical modifications to their property, like drilling a hole, or screwing down a dish, but for instance set the dish on a pole in a bucket of cement and run the cable using flat coax through a window or door, and your dish is in an exclusive use area like a balcony, it’s pretty likely [the HOA] have nothing to stand on to make you pay an extra deposit or have insurance,” AVSForum user dswallow wrote.

For people who are coming up against some resistance to mounting an antenna on their roof or home exterior, attaching it to a self-standing pole in a bucket or pot like mentioned above, may be a good solution.

Grounded Reason says it usually hears of complaints about HOAs because they either don’t know of the FCC rules or they believe that the FCC’s language on “distant station” TV reception applies to over-the-air antennas. Grounded Reason explained why it doesn’t.

“I’ve seen an HOA claim that since a TV antenna can receive a signal at a distance that they can then impose restrictions under this language. This is a misunderstanding of what ‘distant signal’ means,” the blog writes. “A distant signal is one that originates from a distant station outside your media market.”

“Therefore if a broadcast channel is in your local media market, it is not considered a ‘distant signal’ and an antenna cannot be prohibited to receive those channels. This includes channels that are widely viewable in your area.”

The FCC “Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule” has an extensive Q&A section that may cover any particular questions you have about putting up a digital antenna in situations where your HOA, community association or landlord may have some opposition to your putting one up.

If you are having an issue with your antenna installation due to HOA or landlord interference, you can contact the FCC for help toll-free at 888-CALL FCC (1-888-225-5322) or 202-418-2120.

Have you had issues with your HOA or landlord over putting up a satellite dish or antenna?

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